Jim Parsons–from misfit to almighty
LOS ANGELES—It’s a good time to be Jim Parsons. He will be God soon (well, at least he’ll portray Him in a play on Broadway); he recently got a star on Hollywood’s Walk of Fame, and President Obama dropped by when Jim was recording for the new animated film, “Home.”
Looking dapper in a blue suit, with a majestic view of Central Park and New York’s skyline behind him in this recent chat at the Mandarin Oriental, Jim also talked about the passing of Leonard Nimoy, working with Rihanna in “Home,” and the latest about “The Big Bang Theory,” where he plays Sheldon.
Jim is a natural as a voice talent in director Tim Johnson’s animated feature, where he voices Oh, a misfit from another planet who strikes up a friendship with a girl, Tip (Rihanna). In between his media appearances for “Home,” Jim has been memorizing his lines for “An Act of God,” which bows at the Studio 54 in May.
How did you land “An Act of God,” and what’s your approach in playing God?
My agent knew that this writer (David Javerbaum) was writing that play (based on Javerbaum’s own book, “The Last Testament: A Memoir by God”). My agent put the bug in David’s ear. I’m always itching to do theater, so we were looking at what was shaking down for the summer projects. My agent said something to the writer without telling me.
Then, my agent called one day and said, “Listen, this is what happened. They’re really onboard with it (Jim playing God). Now, the writer is in the finishing stages. I’ve mentioned you to him. Would you be interested?”
I read the play. It’s such a funny script! What the best comedy does is explore thoughtful, thorny topics through humor, which makes it easier to talk about them and get through.
President Obama was visiting the studio and dropped by when you were recording for “Home.” What was that like?
Before he came in, the place was crawling with Secret Service agents. Then, the president came in, and it was overwhelming. I wished I could have been able to say something interesting—but, I was so taken aback that he was in the room with me!
When I see pictures of that meeting, I can see the fear on my face. I wasn’t scared of him, but I was scared of the situation. But, I’m glad it happened (laughs).
What did Leonard Nimoy mean to you? How do you feel about his passing?
I was very sad. The two things I discovered about him that truly affected me was what an artist he was—a beautiful photographer, a thoughtful, intelligent man. Second, which I did not find out until he died, was that he directed “3 Men and a Baby,” which I watched over and over again as a child.
How did it feel having your own star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame?
It was one of the sweetest and strangest days I’ve ever experienced since I began living in Los Angeles. I was naïvely unprepared for the amount of focused attention just on me. I had nine members of my family there.
Todd (Spiewak, his partner) and his parents, everybody from the show, and Jeffrey Katzenberg and his wife were there. You’re usually dead when that many people get together to celebrate you in any way.
What did you learn about acting from doing the voice for this character, Oh?
I learned that I have a lot more tools at my disposal even without using my body. It was a very scary experience in the first couple of sessions. I felt defenseless not using my face and arms.
What was interesting was that, once I got more comfortable, I ended up using my body a lot more than I would normally do to elicit certain emotions in my voice.
What was it like to work with Rihanna?
Working with Rihanna was rather dreamlike. Being a musician and a rock star, she has an aura about her. She’s a real star!
What caught me off-guard was how incredibly warm and playful she is.
What’s your favorite storyline in “The Big Bang Theory” this season, and do you think Sheldon and Amy (Mayim Bialik) will ever get married?
My answers to those questions are related. My favorite storyline so far this season has been that Sheldon did tell Amy through reasonable deduction—that he loved her. He considered that he might be ill and he decided he wasn’t. So, there was really one other conclusion—he does, in fact, love her.
But, what I find charming about that and what I have always felt speaks of the health of their relationship are the crazy ways in which they communicate, be it a relationship contract or, like Sheldon said, his almost mathematical scientific deduction that this must be love.
I would love to see them get married. It’s related to my first answer—they deserve to get married (laughs). They’re well-suited to each other. I can’t imagine it’s happening anytime soon. I pray to God that if they want a child, that it happens once we’re off the air. I don’t want to tug around a Baby Bjorn for a season of this show. That sounds horrible. I’d rather work with a monkey. No offense.
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